Proposed guidelines impacting workplace drug testing programs

Oral-Eze.jpgOn May 15, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published two notices in the Federal Register for the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs that could lead to important changes in federal drug testing requirements.

Oral Fluid Mandatory Guidelines would allow the use of oral fluid for the testing of federal employees, and as a result, would remove the current requirement of utilizing urine specimens only. These proposed guidelines highlight the standards and technical requirements for:

  • Oral fluid collection devices
  • Initial oral fluid drug test analytes and methods
  • Confirmatory oral fluid drug test analytes and methods
  • Requalification requirements and processes for review by a Medical Review Officer (MRO)
  • Requirements for federal agency actions

Urine Mandatory Guidelines were submitted to revise the following:

  • Cut-off levels for reporting an adulterated specimen based on low pH
  • Requalification requirements and processes for review by a Medical Review Officer (MRO)
  • Inclusion of references for the use of alternate specimen types in federal workplace drug testing programs

It is important to note that in addition to proposing changes to oral fluid and urine testing regulations, these proposals include the addition of testing procedures for four Schedule II prescription medications: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone and oxymorphone – which are not currently included in the Mandatory Guidelines.

The publication of these two proposals opens a 60-day comment period. After the comment period ends, comments will be reviewed and addressed prior to the publication of the final HHS guidelines. Once final guidelines are published, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), which must follow the scientific guidelines of the HHS, will take the HHS guidance into consideration, propose its rules, open a comment period, and review those comments prior to publishing final rules for inclusion in 49 CFR Part 40.

Over the coming months, there will be more details forthcoming about these proposals and the effect they may have on federal drug testing requirements. As we learn of developments, we will share them here on our blog and in our monthly electronic newsletter.

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